Aside from Charlie Chaplin, there were other slapstick comedians out there that made an impact on silent film history. Benny Hill was one of them. Do you guys remember The Benny Hill Show? That’s where he became known for being one of the best and funniest showmen ever, having reached a record audience of over 21 million people in 1971.
Did you know that before he became the jokester we all know and love, he served in the military? Hill served as an electrical and mechanical engineer for the British army. He was one of those who arrived in Normandy during WWII on September 1, 1944, although he’s quick to say he’d rather not talk about it.
JD Salinger always found ways to write on the side, even after he was drafted by the US Army during WWII. Most of his books touch indirectly on his experiences as a Sergeant where he had many adventures and overcame seemingly insurmountable challenges, such as the storming of the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and the uncovering of the ghastly concentration camps.
Salinger’s most famous book is The Catcher in the Rye. While it is not a military book, his life and writing was no doubt enriched by his personal experiences as a soldier. Grab the book and see through the eyes of his timeless character, Holden Caulfield.
Willie Nelson is a prominent figure in the American music industry, also widely recognized for his outlaw country music – a subgenre that developed in the late 1960s in revolt against the slick and (in Nelson’s view) overproduced quality of the prevailing Nashville sound.
He served in the US Air Force straight after completing high school, but was discharged after nine months due to a bad back. His experiences, however, did leave him with with a bit of wisdom pertaining to one’s social responsibilities; and this has made him an activist, promoting biofuels and the legalization of marijuana.
A lot of people would likely be disappointed if American actor Clint Eastwood hadn’t actually served in the military. Eastwood is the man’s man, the very image of rugged toughness, machismo epitomized. As no-one will be surprised to learn, he served in the US Army after being drafted straight from high school, during the Korean War.
But his military experience was limited as a lifeguard; not exactly the role you’d expect apropos his image. Most of his popular war movies reference what he saw at the time; and he saw a lot, just not as part of the fighting unit.
Harry Belafonte felt that he could be part of a great cause when he joined the navy, and in a way he still was. He courageously enlisted in 1944 to join the fight in World War II, but to his disappointment, he never received the order from higher command to report overseas. He never got to fight, although he had served the military in his own small capacity.
His dreams of action never realized, Belafonte decided to pursue his studies at the New School for Social Research just after he was discharged. He then studied acting at the New School’s dramatic workshop and performed with the American Negro Theatre in the 1940s, singing in clubs to earn enough to pay for his acting classes.